Redondo High School basketball players test positive for COVID-19 after club tourney in Orange County [Update]

Redondo Union High school teachers will vote this week on whether to ratify a district-wide contract. Easy Reader file photo

Redondo Union High School’s boys basketball season ended before it began because of a COVID-19 outbreak over spring break. Easy Reader file photo

by Kevin Cody

Over the last weekend in March, Redondo Union High Schoolboys basketball coach Nick Welch took the South Bay Supreme Basketball club team, which he coaches in the off season, to The Easter Classic 2021. Over 100 club teams participated in the annual tournament at The Map Athletic Facility, a 64,000 square-foot indoor gym in Garden Grove, in Orange County. At the time indoor sporting events were prohibited in Los Angeles County.

South Bay Supreme included 20 of the 45 players on the Redondo Union High boys freshman, junior varsity and varsity basketball teams.

Over the following two weeks, 22 Redondo basketball players, plus one of their coaches, tested positive for COVID-19.

Coach Welch said in a statement Sunday, in response to this story, that it is unfair to intimate that the tournament was the source of the contagion. There is no medical evidence to indicate that it was, and there is no evidence that any of the more than 100 other teams at the tournament contracted COVID-19 at the tournament.

All of the cases were mild or asymptomatic, and most of the players have returned to campus. But team practices and games have been suspended indefinitely, Redondo Union High Principal Jens Brandt said this week.

On Thursday, April 22, Brandt emailed parents with kids at the high school, reminding them, “As we look toward the finish line of this school year, and our ability to continue to engage in activities, it is imperative we follow the travel guidelines provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH).”

Redondo’s varsity baseball team has also had to cancel practices because one of its players tested positive. But the baseball players will be allowed to return to campus on Tuesday, April 27, after completing 10 days of quarantining, Brandt said.

The first basketball player known to have tested positive reported his condition to the school on Thursday, April 1. Students were not attending class at the time, but student athletes were allowed on campus to practice outdoors.

The second player to report testing positive notified the school on April 2, the day basketball practice began and the start of spring break. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had approved resumption of  indoor sports on April 1.

Basketball practices were suspended Friday, April 9, after more basketball players tested positive. The last positive test of a player was reported Saturday April 17, according to Brandt. 

In compliance with county protocols, the basketball players who did not test positive were required to be quarantined for 10 days, and receive a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Players who tested positive were also required to be quarantined for 10 days, and to be symptom free for 24 hours before being allowed back on campus. They were not required to show negative tests because COVID-19 patients may test positive for several months after recovering from the disease.

Brandt said only student athletes were on campus during spring break. Redondo’s boys and girls volleyball teams were also practicing in the two gyms used by the basketball teams, but at different times, he said. None of them have tested positive for COVID-19, he said.

In an email to basketball team parents, sent Wednesday, April 21, Brandt said the school presently has 27 student athletes with positive COVID-19 test results. That number does not include student athletes who have recovered from COVID-19.

Redondo’s 2,200 students returned to campus at the end of spring break for the first time since the start of the pandemic, over one year ago. Half of the students attend classes Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The other half attend Thursdays and Fridays. Classes are from 7:55 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. Next week, all students will attend half day classes on campus, Tuesday through Friday. Monday classes will continue to be online. About 70 percent of the student body has returned to on campus learning, Brandt said.

Prior to coming to school students are required to complete an online COVID-19 “symptoms assessment,”  developed by the Beach Cities Health District. Additionally, student athletes are required to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Testing is offered at the health district.

Brandt said the COVID-19 outbreak was a reminder that pandemic protocols, including distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing, need to be strictly followed. But he said overall, the return to oncampus instruction has gone well.

On Monday, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer disclosed that county schools have reported five COVID-19 outbreaks, all involving sports teams. In addition to Redondo, she said, there were three team outbreaks in Santa Clarita and one in Agoura.

“Students are pretty safe in schools as long as the safety protocols are followed,” she said. ER



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